H20: An Australian Fantasy series

by Valmire Shala

Fantasy is usually understood as a situation that one enjoys thinking about but that is unlikely to happen OR a story or type of literature that describes situations that are very different from real life and more closely linked to fairy tales, myth and legend and often involve such things as magic or just the generally abnormal.

Thus, fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction, often inspired by the real world. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became fantasy literature and drama. Nowadays you can find fantasy in various media, including film, television, graphic novels, video games, animated movies, and manga. One of them is the series H2O: Just Add Water.

The series H20: Just Add Water is a worldwide known Australian fantasy teen drama written by Jonathan M. Shiff which first released in 2006. It was filmed in Australia, more precisely the Gold Coast. The show is about three teenage girls; Emma, Rikki and Cleo, who are facing everyday problems with the important caveat being that they are mermaids with different powers over water. The girls one day ended up in the water under a dormant volcano, at Mako Island, just as a full moon passes above them. There something strange happened. The next day they discover that ten seconds after coming into contact with water, they transform into mermaids. As time goes on, they also discover that they have supernatural powers over water, such as moving water, freezing it or bring it to a boil. With time they adapt their new abilities and lifestyle. Along the way, their smart friend Lewis is there for the girls to help them keep their secret and to find out more about it.

However, the question is: What exactly makes this show an Australian Fantasy and not for example Australian Science-Fiction? Is it the setting, certain themes or even the authors place of birth?

Fantasy is distinguished from the genres of science fiction and horror by the absence of scientific explanations and fear-inducing storylines respectively even though these genres overlap. But fantasy crosses the boundaries of reality in a way that can no longer be explained by laws of nature and scientific knowledge. Fantasy is therefore the oldest fictional genre, because all mythological figures and creatures fall into this category: gods, demons, vampires, mythical animals/creatures, monsters, and other magical figures, and also abilities (such as superpowers). Therefore, one can say that the Australian fantasy genre is therefore difficult to define, but what is certain is that it can be very diverse, due to the influence of the many different cultures that exist in Australia. A text can be Australian fantasy if there is an Australian setting, it deals with Australian culture or even if the author is Australian or has at least his residence there. However, the Australian literature is not necessarily set in Australia or explicitly about Australians or/and Australia. Because this is not a complete list, and it is not required that Australian Fantasy stories must have all this points to be considered Australian Fantasy.

In this case the show’s author is from Australia, as well as the three main characters and the setting is also in Australia. And also, the fact that they are mermaids and have supernatural powers and magical/supernatural things happens makes it an Australian Fantasy show. It makes you dive into a world were mermaids exist and makes you part of the secret, that you forget while watching that there normally are no such creatures as mermaids with superpowers. It is also enriching to see the beautiful Gold Coast and the capital Sydney, where most of the episodes are filmed.


H2O: Just Add Water
Ryan, John. “Reflections on an Australian Fantasy: constructing the impossible.” Coolabah. Vol. 18, 2016, pp. 16-22